Earlier this summer, Sandra Oh shocked a lot of people by earning an Emmy nod for her role in the BBC America series, Killing Eve. The surprise was not due to the honor being undeserved–Oh was rightly regarded as fantastic in her role. What was shocking was that the achievement made Oh the first woman of Asian descent to even land in contention for a lead actress win. How was that possible?
For all the talk of representation and #OscarsSoWhite in recent years, actual change has been slow. In 2017, 4.8% of characters in the year’s top-grossing 100 films were of Asian descent. While the current climate suggests that a studio couldn’t pull off another Scarlett Johansson-Ghost In the Shell whitewashing without a backlash halting it–and that it would be financially unwise to do so–it’s still a tough time for Asian-American actors who want to be cast in more than token roles. Perhaps that will all change with the release of Crazy Rich Asians.
The film, which opened on Wednesday to a fabulous $5 million first day and a thousand think pieces, is unofficially considered a litmus test for whether audiences will come out for a film created across-the-board by Asian-Americans, and with a culturally reflective storyline. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one movie, but with a 94% Rotten Tomatoes score, Crazy Rich Asians is shouldering the burden well. Whether or not the film truly does open the door for more meaningful representation in Hollywood, there are already at least 13 major Asian-American centered projects on the way. Have a look at the selection, which amounts to a promising start, below.
- Searching, a kidnapping thriller that unfurls entirely on computer screens, features a still-rare lead turn for John Cho. It’s out in theaters on August 24.
- Always Be My Maybe is a romantic comedy starring Randall Park And Ali Wong as a pair of childhood friends who become romantically linked as adults. It just wrapped shooting for Netflix, and is expected in 2019.
- According to the Hollywood Reporter, the following projects are all in the works: Writer- producer Diana Son is developing an HBO drama pilot entitled Slanted, which focuses on four Asian-American women; Fashion designer Phillip Lim is moving into the film world by producing an indie take on Romeo & Juliet featuring immigrant Chinese teens; journalist Lisa Ling is teaming up with Nina Yang Bongiovi on a biopic based on the life of pioneering Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama; Amazon Studios is working with Kevin “Crazy Rich Asians author” Kwan on a new drama series; and Apple creative executive Michelle Lee is helping create an Apple series based on Min Jin Lee’s 2017 historical epic novel Pachinko, which traces a Korean family throughout the 20th century.
- Crazy Rich Asians scene-stealer Awkwafina (aka Nora Lum) is developing a show based on her own experiences as a fame-seeking twentysomething in Queens, New York, due out on Comedy Central in 2019.
- Now You See Me and Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu has one of several Thai cave rescue movies in the works, with the aim of bringing authenticity and respect to the story, and prevent whitewashing.
- Disney’s live-action Mulan is in production, with Yifei Liu in the titular role, joined by Donnie Yen and Jet Li.
- Daily Show correspondent Ronny Chieng has a new digital series, International Student, which has just been released this week by Comedy Central.
- Stand-up comedian Joel Kim Booster is developing a show called Birthright, which Deadline described as a single-camera comedy about “a child born in South Korea before being adopted by white, Midwest evangelical parents. When it comes apparent to all involved he’s gay, the young fish out of water goes in search of his birth mother in the hopes they can reconnect.” Originally, the show was headed for Fox, although now it is being developed for an undisclosed cable network.
- Wish Dragon is an animated movie with a sprawling Asian-American cast that includes Constance Wu, John Cho, and Jimmy O. Yang. Although the film is being developed for release in China, it should inevitably see a U.S. release as well, eventually.